Suddenly, with reduced oxygen supplies, a frenzied process began trying to get the three astronauts back to Earth in their damaged spacecraft.

In times of crisis, humans can be creative and inventive. With the growing acceptance that COVID-19 and its variants can be with us indefinitely, the New Zealand government and public health officials, like NASA in 1970, must quickly change the way they think to adapt to the new challenge.

The goal should no longer be to exist in a sufficient hermit kingdom but to return to a life where New Zealanders can travel abroad – for whatever reason – knowing that they can return home when they do. wish, and where we again welcome visitors to this country.

These are not sweeping goals, yet there has been no coherent plan shared with the public for when or how these might be achieved. The only emergency that we have seen in months is an enthusiasm to lock down our country, lock down our people, and lock down our citizens who are abroad.

Some people might want to continue the North Korean option. I am not one of them.

Public health experts and politicians have done a good job of making the public fearful, and therefore willing to accept multiple restrictions on their civil liberties that are disproportionate to the risk they incur COVID.

Another problem with the Hermit Kingdom model is that you have to believe that the government can continue to borrow $ 1 billion every week to disguise that we are no longer making our way around the world.

You must also ignore the deafening voices of tens of thousands of New Zealanders whose citizenship is compromised by being stranded abroad. Very few of them manage to return when Wellington officials decide their situation is dire enough to be rewarded with a golden ticket to MIQ.

How come the bureaucrats decide who gets home while pretending the others have taken a long shopping trip overseas and deserve nothing more than to be left at the mercy of a lottery?

A lottery is not a public policy. It is a national embarrassment.

Whether you can see your grandchild, your dying mother, or your sister’s wedding, it depends on whether your number shows up or not. It is a lottery that plays with families and the future of people.

Meanwhile, these brave New Zealanders who have started or bought a small business are worry insomniacs – just like their workers – because lockdowns are a blind tool that stops trade as effectively as it stops COVID. The real evil is hidden by an economy supported by borrowing.

Too often I hear commentators supporting the North Korean option because they claim that opening up to the rest of the world will introduce the virus, and therefore cost people their lives.

International evidence does not support this claim. If you are vaccinated, your chances of being hospitalized or dying from COVID are slim.

There is an argument that the government should impose vaccination, but no country has done so, and neither has ours. Every day in New Zealand, people die from smoking-related cancer and other diseases in which lifestyle has played a role.

We each make our choices and live with the consequences.

But here’s a plan that might work:

  1. Offer Māori and Pacific healthcare providers a financial incentive for each person vaccinated over the next six weeks

  2. Offer each person aged 12 to 29 a $ 25 voucher of their choice if they get vaccinated before December 1

  3. Only allow vaccinated people in authorized premises (and maybe park the Shot Bro bus outside a few nightclubs as an incentive)

  4. Tell New Zealanders when the borders reopen. It could make more people get stung

  5. Stop ruling by fear. Instead, reassure people that living with the virus is possible, as long as you are vaccinated.
    Take positive steps like funding Pharmac to invest in therapies proven to help fight the virus, strengthen our hospital capacity and workforce, use saliva tests for COVID, subsidize home COVID test kits, and order injections of reminder now.

The last part of the plan is to open the borders, soon.

MIQ, as our only quarantine response, is inadequate. Home quarantine should begin immediately.

The South Australia trial already requires people at MIQ homes to leave their phones on 24 hours a day and agree to use facial recognition and GPS technology so that they can be monitored.

We might add that if you break the quarantine you get a fine of $ 20,000 and jail time.

In addition, as ACT chief David Seymour has advocated, we need short-term, privately-run MIQ facilities that are specifically designed for workers and ultimately tourists.

This is by no means a complete list of what is possible. These are just a few ways to encourage vaccination and enable New Zealand to join the world that is opening up without us.

For those who say it’s too hard, or too risky, I ask this:

Someday when most of the finance minister’s budget only pays the interest on the debt we are currently racking up, and you can’t have the latest cancer drugs, and no more police because the News -Zeeland didn’t you gonna think them? Do you wish that in 2021 the government acted with the urgency and creativity that NASA displayed when suddenly had to rethink its approach to the Apollo 13 mission?

NASA has succeeded. It has proven that to get a different result you need a different strategy.

Sir John Key was Prime Minister of New Zealand from 2008 to 2016.


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